Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dru's Cozy Report: March 2012 Reading List


Welcome to Dru's Cozy Report. This month we have four new series for your reading pleasure.
Adrift on St. John by Rebecca M. Hale is the first book in the new "Mystery in the Islands" mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, March 2012
No one knows better than resort manager Pen Hoffstra that the idea of a tropical paradise is an illusion. So when a young woman named Hannah Sheridan disappears and a water taxi sinks mysteriously off the island of St. John, she is not surprised that all is not what it seems to be. Pointing out Hannah's resemblance to the Amina Slave Princess from the 1733 slave revolt on St. John—whose ghost is rumored to haunt the island—the local community quickly latches on to the belief that her spirit is behind the sinking and the disappearance. Only one person on the island knows the whole truth, and it's not what anyone suspects.
I like it. This was an easy flowing, narrative tale that took a different path in its storytelling. Snapshots of historical folklore were interspersed with the present as the tension built as to how this drama will unwind. Pen, the heroine in this mystery is a mystery herself and that in itself kept me turning the pages as we are introduced to some of the local flavor of the island from the laid-back approach; to the local dialect and the people that have become a part of her circle. This is not your typical cozy, but an intriguing and adventurous jaunt on a tropical island and I look forward to the next excursion in this wonderful series.
Visit Rebecca at www.mysteryintheislands.com
Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book


Murder Buys a T-Shirt by Christy Fifield is the first book in the new "Haunted Souvenir Shop" mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, March 2012
Glory always dismisses ghost stories–until she inherits her great-uncle Louis's souvenir shop, where items seem to rearrange themselves and her pet parrot, Bluebeard, is suddenly uttering phrases he couldn't have picked up from customers. If Glory told anyone the shop was haunted, they'd think the fresh sea air has gone to her head. Then, at an end-of-summer party, local football hero Kevin Stanley dies, and the store starts to go haywire. Glory finally shares her secret with her best friend, who takes it seriously–and is convinced the ghost is trying to send a message. Kevin's death was no accident, and it's linked to Glory's very own great-uncle Louis. Now Glory must dig through the junk to find the truth, before someone leaves her with a deadly souvenir of her own.
I love this book. Glory lives in Florida with her parrot Bluebeard. When one of the local sports player is killed in a car accident, Bluebeard has something to say and it’s not “Polly want a cracker”, instead it may be a message from her long-dead uncle. This was a fun read and I enjoyed meeting Gloryanna and her friends. The mystery was good as it kept me guessing in this page-turning and well-crafted novel. The tone of the story was very comfortable and the setting of a souvenir shop was a perfect backdrop to this lighthearted tale. With a fun-loving cast of characters and entertaining dialogue, this was a great read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this charmingly appealing series. Also includes recipes based on traditional Southern cooking.
Visit Christy at http://christy-evans-mystery.blogspot.com
Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book


Little Shop of Homicide by Denise Swanson is the first book in the new "Devereaux's Dime Store" mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, March 2012
After Jollie Ayers, the fiancé of Dev’s ex-boyfriend, is found handcuffed to a hotel bed, murdered with a champagne bottle and a stiletto-heeled shoe, a revenge-crazed cop is determined to put Dev behind bars. The cuffs and the champagne were part of a gift basket Dev put together for the victim, and they have her fingerprints all over them. Desperate to clear her good name, Dev enlists her two longtime pals, Poppy and Boone, to help investigate. Luckily, the sexy new guy in town, Jake Del Vecchio, also feels compelled to assist, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a deputy U.S. marshal. But Dev had better fight her attraction to Jake and focus on discovering the killer—or this brand-new business owner may find herself trading her nostalgic five-and-dime store for a modern-day prison cell.
In order to clear her name when she becomes the prime suspect, Dev teams up with her two best friends and sexy newcomer Jake to find the person responsible as the detective working the case is determined to send Dev to where her father resides. What a ride! From the moment I picked up this book, I was thoroughly engrossed in this fast-moving story that had me quickly turning the pages to finish this character-driven tale. The mystery was good as it kept me guessing throughout most of the book. This well-written whodunit boasts an awesome cast with Dev leading the way to Gran who is a charm and friendly and engaging conversations. I love the idea of a dime store serving as the backdrop in the delightfully attractive series. This is a great debut and I hope to spend more time with Dev and company for years to come.
Visit Denise at www.deniseswanson.com
Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book


Death of a Kitchen Diva  by Lee Hollis is the first book in the new "Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails" mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, March 2012
Single mom Hayley Powell is barely keeping her leaking roof over her head when her boss at the Island Times gives her a new assignment—taking over the paper’s food column. Hayley’s not sure she has the chops—she’s an office manager, not a writer, even if her friends clamor for her mouth-watering potluck dishes. But the extra income is tempting, and Hayley’s chatty first column is suddenly on everyone’s menu—with one exception. When rival food writer Karen Appelbaum is found face-down dead in a bowl of Hayley’s creamy clam chowder, all signs point to Hayley. To clear her name, she’ll have to enlist some help, including her BFFs, a perpetually pregnant lobster woman, and a glamorous real estate agent. As she whips up a list of suspects, Hayley discovers a juicy secret about the victim—and finds herself in a dangerous mix with a cold-blooded killer.
This is a fun read. Hayley gets a promotion and the next thing she knows she is fighting to clear her name when she becomes the main suspect in the murder of a rival food writer. I had such a good time reading this amusing story from beginning to end. This fast-paced and lighthearted mystery was wonderfully written with some comedic interludes. With a lovable cast and great dialogue, this is a welcome addition to the cozy genre and I look forward to more adventures with Hayley and her friends in this pleasingly entertaining series.